There seemed to be more cars at this year's auto show that we could go on and on if we wanted. But we can't. Why? Despite there being more cars than ever before, there is just so little to really remark on. It was a lot of the same ol'-same ol'.
While others may have gone about every_single_model at the show, we only found a few that're worth special mention. And from only two manufacturers!
HyundaiHyundai?! What, are we drunk on the sweet, sweet goodness of Claire Danes? Yes. Yes we are. But these Hyundais represent new ground for Hyundai and we expect to see more like this.
If you sit inside of the Hyundai Veracruz and look past the brand badges, you'll never, ever know it's a Hyundai. This is the first real example of Hyundai moving so upscale that you now think of the brand differently. Sure the Azera attempted to do that, and while it's a great car, it's another car and America's love affair with SUVs doesn't seem to have ended (the way our marriage has), so the Veracruz is going to make a mark on a lot of people.
From the high-quality materials to smartly-designed interior, the Veracruz says Hyundai is ready to compete head-to-head rather than purely on price and longer warranty. This first version of the Veracruz does have some missing components for a $36k vehicle, mainly no navigation. That will be fixed not with a refresh but with a new model that we bet comes out sooner rather than later.
OK, we cheesed out a bit here because the Genesis isn't a car you can buy today, but it, like the Veracruz, is a line in the sand vehicle. It says, we're playing hard ball, boys. The Genesis, once it's complete (out in 2008), will go after, not high-end Toyotas, but the real big boys. Who? Well, Hyundai specifically mentioned two brands (WARNING: Corp-speak ahead!):
Utilizing ultra high-tensile steel in critical areas in the unibody provides Concept Genesis with a 12-14 percent higher dynamic torsional rigidity and a lower body-in-white weight than the BMW 5-series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. This stiffer, lighter, larger body provides a terrific foundation for world-class dynamics and lowering noise levels inside the vehicle.Whoa! Mercedes and BMW! We like them huevos! We're looking forward to test drives of this car to see if it can really compete. It would be foolish of Hyundai to mention premium brands if it didn't really think the Genesis could compete.
Think it can?
VolvoVolvo C30 Why is a little nerdy hatchback a car of interest? Because this nerd has gone to finishing school! It has Volvo safety, design and, now, Japanese pricing! Starting at under $23k, this is going to be the Volvo that gets kids into their first Volvo nearly a decade earlier than usual. Not a big family hauler for sure, this little, sporty car is an ideal choice for people who landed their first real job. Coming in two versions (1.0 and 2.0), the Volvo C30 immediately shows off its good taste
Volvo has managed to completely shed it's dowdy reputation thanks focus on modern designs (tell us the floating center stack isn't the coolest thing you've seen in years). And the Volvo C30 allows folks who have more taste than they do money to enter this world. It might not be the best seller, but it's a smart move and we think, in the long run, Volvo will have more loyal customers because of the C30.
Sorry XC70 owners, you're going to want to upgrade. And guilt-ridden SUV owners will want to fess up and say, "Wow, this really is better than this POS SUV I'm hauling my fat ass in." First, yeah, it's a station wagon. But it's the beefy "I'm a rugged soccer mom" version of the also-redesigned V70 wagon. In fact, we'da recommended the V70 as well, but it wasn't at the show while we were there (WTF!) so we can't say for sure.
From a far more shapely exterior, to a super-smart interior design (it uses the floating center stack, too) and convenience features like screens in the headrests for back seat viewing and a handy sliding tray in the cargo area to help one's back from not breaking.
The Volvo XC70 does not break ground like the C30, but it's worth noting because Volvo is avoiding the addition of adding another big SUV (XC90, we hate thee) and focusing its energy on making the wagon all it can be.
Alison Krauss2007 Alison Krauss
The 2007 version of Alison Krauss is better than ever with tightened body frame, toned curves and refined engine. In fact, the minute that you see her, you'll know you'll have to have her. In fact, you'll want to take her for a spin. Once you see her taillight blinkin', you'll never be the same again.
Equipped with dual headlights, padded dash and positive traction, it's no wonder there are whistles when the 2007 Alison Krauss goes down the street. There's no doubt that if you leave Alison Krauss unattended, even for a minute, all the competition will gather 'round her to stare: they won't believe she is real. They'll have never see a chassy quite as slick or half as classy before.
We recommend keeping the 2007 Alison Krauss in the garage: locked up tight and under cover (don't give anyone a chance to yell "mechanics lean").
Finally, once the 2007 Alison Krauss is properly registered along with a safety check (and the proper sets of licenses), it'll take you anywhere she chooses to be. The 2007 Alison Krauss is surely a streamlined, sleek-lookin', smooth-running, fast-fiddlin, breath-takin, lovin' machine.